The web is abuzz with the news that Google is snapping up Motorola Mobility in a deal valued at $12.5 billion. And while there are concerns that Google is pursuing the deal purely for the patents, CEO Larry Page said in a blog post that the agreement will let them “supercharge the Android ecosystem” by fending off patent threats from Apple, Microsoft and other companies. In addition, he dropped hints of “wonderful user experiences” in a nod at tightly integrated devices that Apple famously builds.
Now, conventional wisdom has it that the transaction will put other Android backers in an uneasy position as they get to compete with Motorola on an uneven playing field. Not to worry, Boy Genius Report has reactions from major Android backers that appear to be upbeat about the deal. For example, J.K. Shin, president of Samsung’s Mobile Communications division says:
We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.
The publication quoted similar statements by executives from HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson that Google published on their site. On the other hand, as noted by Business Insider, Android backers cannot be satisfied with the outcome of this time, regardless of their voice of support. TIMN wonders what this deal means for the future of Motorola products and the level of Google’s involvement in product development. So far, this is about intellectual property. Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha revealed in a conference call discussing the Google deal that his company controls a rich patent portfolio of 17,000 issued patents and 7,500 patent applications filed, indicating that Google will use this patent war chest as a powerful leverage against legal pressure from rivals Apple and Microsoft.
Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond said this in the call:
I think that we’ve seen some very aggressive licensing demands in the Android ecosystem. And we think that having the patent portfolio will make sure that Android is open and vibrant, and the kind of platform that lots of companies can remain on.
Patents aside, one could speculate that the Google-Motorola deal allows Google to create an end-to-end ecosystem akin to Apple, with the search company controlling both the hardware, the software and the operating system. This probably means end of the road for Motorola’s Motoblur software layer built on top of Android and could result in a mythical gPhone, the ultimate smartphone Google always wanted (and attempted with the Nexus series) to build themselves.